Education Week: Increased spiritual blessings for increasingly difficult times

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Maddi Dayton
Elder Neil L. Andersen speaks at BYU’s Education Week Devotional, Aug. 18 2015. (Maddi Dayton)

As evil increases in the world, so do the spiritual blessings available to the righteous, said Elder Neil L. Andersen at BYU’s Education Week Devotional Tuesday.

Thousands gathered in the newly renovated Marriott Center to hear Elder Andersen’s remarks, which focused on providing hope to those struggling with the difficulties present in the world.

He began with an emotional tribute to fellow apostles who recently died: President Boyd K. Packer and Elder L. Tom Perry. Elder Andersen detailed the passing of Elder Perry, and shared humorous details about how the two apostles approached death. Elder Perry was originally assigned to be the devotional speaker at Education Week.

Turning to the struggles facing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Andersen cited recent statistics and headlines on terrorist attacks, single parent households, euthanasia and mass shootings, remarking that “we live in very interesting times.” But despite these challenges, he said, there is hope in the gospel and the light that it brings.

“As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed,” Elder Andersen said. “The Lord will bless his Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day.”

He then focused on the “compensatory spiritual power” that God provides to the righteous, comparing it to enhanced night vision for an increasingly dark world. While there are many examples of such blessings, Elder Andersen focused on three.

1. The invention of technology to help with family history

A missionary recently reported that by following the recent youth temple challenge (where youth bring their own names to the temple), he received a testimony of family history work and is now using it to help convert others in Chile. Elder Andersen shared that story to illustrate that as youth and others participate more in family history work, they are given greater spiritual blessings to strengthen them.

2. Access to temples has increased

During Elder Andersen’s 20 years as a General Authority, the number of temples has grown from 44 to 147 — an increase of over 300 percent. He taught that members of the church must use the temples in order to receive promised spiritual blessings. “In these times of commotion, the Lord expects us to adjust our habits and be in his house more often,” he said.

3. A greater focus on the Sabbath Day 

Focusing on the recent push by church leaders for Sabbath Day observance, Elder Andersen reminded listeners that this represents the will of God, and that doing so will increase the Spirit in each individual’s life. “Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water to quench our spiritual thirst and to relieve our parched souls,” he said.

Elder Andersen concluded his remarks by emphasizing the need for every member of the church to receive their own testimony of the gospel. Speaking of the path of life, he said, “If we unexpectedly face jagged rocks and uneven cliffs, each needs his or her own lantern to light the path.”

His talk will be archived for viewing at BYUtv.org and also at speeches.byu.edu.

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